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WAS sitting alone the other day with my work, and
thinking of such visits of angels to people in this world as we read of in the Bible. And I thought,
Suppose an angel were to come into my room now, and to say, “I am sent to ask you what you know about yourself: whether you ever think what you are, why you are living, and where you are going to ?” And this led me on to think what I should say ; and as this little “talk with myself about myself” was useful to me, I think it may be to others; and therefore I write it down.
“What am I?” A wonderful creature, certainly, with a wonderful body, which I call my own; for I say, “my head," “my hands,” “ my body.” Therefore my body is not "myself,” but something that I, myself, possess—something that belongs to me, and by the help of which I can read, and talk, and walk, and work; and can not only look on the faces of those I love, but can, with the use of my hands, do many little deeds of love and kindness, to prove that I feel sympathy with them, whether they are in joy or sorrow. I can also, in less time than it takes me to write the words, think of dear friends in many parts of England, or thousands of miles away in America and Australia ; while my body is so little able to go with me, that often it can scarcely walk across the room it is sitting in. This wonderful power of thought enables me, whenever I wish, to recall the features and forms of those whom I have before known, whether they are living or dead. What then is this me that possesses this wonderful body ? Every reader will know at once that it is the soul, or spirit. For this it is which thinks and feels and hopes and fears, and directs every movement of the body, which in Scripture is called “ the tabernacle," "our earthly house,” in which the soul lives during its life on earth.
The Bible tells us that when the body dies it turns again to dust; and we all know that this is true, because it has so often been seen that it does. The Bible also tells us that when the body dies “the spirit returns to Him who gave it.”
And though no one has ever seen this, it is so believed to be true by the greater number of people that the greatest anxiety they feel when dying is about the soul, and not the body. Everything that God has made is wonderful ; but in all creation there is nothing so awful as myself.” For whether I am rich, and living in a palace, or so poor that I have to sleep in a barn, or under a hedge, I am born with a spirit, which must one day stand with all other spirits “ before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath clone, whether it be good or bad.” Even these few words, therefore, ought to be enough to make me think, that as I shall not live in this body for ever, where shall I live when I leave it?
Where do I wish to live? Have I looked out for a home anywhere else, or am I leaving it all to chance, as some say? The Bible tells me there are only two “homes" for everybody-heaven, for the blessed; hell, for the wicked. As, therefore, every day I live I get one day nearer to one of these two places, I ought to be able to know to which one I am on the road.
If I am going to heaven I shall certainly find “myself” constantly longing to know all I can about the great God who lives there, and who is to be my Judge at the last day. I shall find myself reading His Book—the only book in the world that can, at first-hand, tell me anything about Him. I shall be very anxious to know if I am in the right road to His beautiful and happy home, where I shall see the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up His life on the cross that we might be saved and go to heaven if we wiil. I shall be thinking about all the holy men of old, and many whom I have known, who are all now living there.
On the other hand, if I am going the road that leads to the other place, I shall never think about it if I can help it. It is too clreadful a subject to think or talk about, as even the most hardened sinner could tell you if he would speak the truth. No one likes to think of hell, or of those who live there. The most wicked people have been known to shriek with agony, when on their dying beds, at the thought of being in a few hours in the midst of evil spirits and lost souls. And if anything can add to their horror at such a time, it is to know that it is entirely their own fault that they are going there, and not to heaven. For if there are some who cannot read God's Book, they can talk, and ask questions of those who can read; and they can listen to the ministers of Christ, who read and explain the Bible, and who are longing Sunday after Sunday to see the poor and the suffering and the broken-hearted come to them for words of comfort and hope.
Besides, every one can make his thoughts known to God; for he has only to say from his heart, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and he will at once feel, like the poor woman who “ touched the hem” of the Saviour's garment, that a soothing, healing power has come into his soul. The Bible tells us that we have the power of choice; for if we cannot make ourselves love the good and hate the evil, we can go down on our knees, and pray this
“ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
We must never forget that unless we are living a holy life we are not on the road that leads to heaven; and that if
; the body is not "myself," it is only through the body that we can show to God and the world “whose we are," and " whom we serve." The Bible says, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Every act of the body, therefore, is directed by "myself;" and for everything it does, "whether good or bad," I, "myself,” shall have to give an account when it is laid helpless and senseless in the grave—“ earth to earth,”
" ashes to ashes," “ dust to dust.”
May these few words incline the hearts of some readers to think about what “ought to be the most interesting subject in the world to each one of us”—“myself !”
H, mistress is so mean and close, she'll take the
leasteses bit of coal as ever is off the fire at night and save till next morning. And if a
bit of meat should spoil, or a drop of milk turn sour, she'll make that fuss over it as if it would ruin her."
So said Mary Smith to her friend Charlotte Spiers, who was standing at her cottage door, when she passed on an errand one gloomy November morning.
Mary had only been a few days at her new place—that of general servant to an elderly maiden lady, who had recently come to live in the village of Colburn. Her name was Miss Hill, and, being a stranger, she was of course the subject of much curiosity to her new neighbours.
“ Well, if there's one thing as I hate more than another it's meanness," said Charlotte. “ It would worrit me to death to have to see to them little things. What signifies one bit of coal more or less, I should like to know? And by the jewels she wears, and the furniture in her room, one would think she wasn't so poverty-stricken as all that comes to. But she must be an uncommon queer body.” Miss Hill certainly was uncommon.
She need not have troubled herself with a young girl like Mary, for she could have afforded to keep a good experienced servant, and greatly felt the discomfort of having only a girl who wanted training. But it was a discomfort she willingly endured for the sake of doing good after her ability. She knew that to train a young servant well requires much patience, selfdenial, and kindness; but it is a good work—a work of real usefulness; and so she did this "little thing,” as she would have called it, for her Lord.
It was just the little every-day duty that so few are willing to take up, for there is nothing showy or remarkable in it; nothing to attract the attention or earn the praise of men. But who shall say what deep blessings resulted to the young girls who, from time to time, left that quiet little home, and
entered on service in other families, prepared and trained by her wise instruction and example ?
Mary had not been well brought up. 'Her mother was very poor and ignorant, and her mistress found some difficulty at first in impressing her with the rights of property. Mary would load the kitchen fire unnecessarily with coal, or give bread and meat to any of her relations or friends who paid her a visit, without asking her mistress's leave. And she would “just run home” when sent on an errand, without thinking it at all needful to ask permission to do so.
Mary was encouraged in all this by her mother, who went so far as to say that “no lady would look so sharp after every scrap of victual; and, as for her time, she was no slave to be bought body and soul for money.”
But, happily for Mary, Miss Hill was as strict as she was kind, and looked after the “ fragments" of property and time with a vigilant eye. She made her little servant understand that she required her to be “true and just in all her dealings.”
Before the winter was over Mary's father fell sick, and for several weeks he could do no work at all. Mary had many little brothers and sisters, and what would have become of them all during that time of trouble she could not tell if it had not been for the kindness of her mistress.
Many a barrowful of coal did Miss Hill send to Mary's home then, and many a tempting dinner for the sick man ; and Mary was often allowed to run home and help her mother, while Miss Hill would have a girl in to do her work.
Then Mary's heart reproached her indeed for her foolish talk about Miss Hill's meanness. “ I could bite my tongue off,” she said to her mother one day, “to think I've ever spoken such false, cruel words.”
Every Sunday evening Miss Hill would question Mary about the sermon, and read with her a chapter in the Bible, and talk to her of the dear Lord whom she herself so earnestly desired to serve. One evening, after Mary had repeated the text, “Gather